We will draw a veil over the months of intermittent pain, and the recent visit to a very annoying orthopedist who needs training in how to listen and how to answer questions. The bottom line is that for the next two weeks I will be laced into what I am trying to think of as an ankle corset.

A corset, after all, can be sexy, an object of fantasy and fetish. Much more attractive than a brace.

But when you think about the basic purpose of corsets, it gets hard to keep up the fantasy. They constrict; they make it hard to move at a brisk or even normal pace. If worn, now, as outer wear, they are clearly costume. If worn for their original purpose, modern clothing does not fit well over them; once more, you wind up in costume.

And this is what is happening to me, and my plans for an English travel wardrobe. Most of my shoes, particularly those I was going to take with me, do not fit once I’m laced into the ankle corset. It hides under trousers, but looks fairly awful with a skirt. Part of me says, “Who cares? Dress as you like down to the ankles, and then if you’re in brace and special shoes, it’s clear you’re making an effort despite your impairment.” And part of me says, “I’d rather hide it. I cannot bring myself to wear athletic shoes with a skirt, in London, where most people are well dressed.”

So I went shopping. Instead of a skirt, I’m taking another pair of trousers, and I bought two pair of shoes that are flat, hideous, comfortable, and not white with colored trim. One pair of black lace-ups, work shoes, the next thing to hiking shoes; one pair of brown Mary Janes, with bold stitching and wide toes, cute if you like sporty German-style casual shoes, which I’m not usually a fan of. I’m more the penny-loafer type. But I need flat shoes that can both accommodate the brace and fit the unbraced foot, hence lace-ups and adjustable straps. And multiple pairs of socks.

I thought about substituting a pair of lace-up boots for the brace; then I could have gone neo-Victorian in style: a little costume-y, but within academic tolerances, and perhaps not inappropriate for my itinerary. But the ones I have don’t lace high enough, and it is not a good time of year to buy boots in local stores. There wasn’t time to order online and take delivery before I leave. So I’m bracing myself.

It’s not as if anyone is going to notice or care. It’s just that I tend to deal with my travel anxiety by obsessing over the clothes I pack, and I dislike having the plan disrupted at the last minute.

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One thought on “Bracing up

  1. Traveling with a foot injury sucks. I've been struggling with similar issues on account of my stress fracture. The troubles are (a) all my pants are hemmed with the expectation of at least SOME heel, usually 3" but at least 1 1/2"; (b) I can only wear "sensible" shoes with lots of support, which I loathe and cannot bring myself to part good money for; (c) sensible shoes look awful with skirts; and (d) well, I don't know; the whole thing sucks so much it deserved a (d). I have concluded that there is no solution.

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